These young women are ready to challenge gender inequality in their community in India. Through the Mehak girls group started by World Vision, Poonam, Arti, Suman and Jyoti (pictured above) meet once a month to learn about human rights, critical and creative thinking, self-defence, the art of problem solving and communication skills to assist in personality development.
In rural Indian communities, girls groups are educating and shifting the opinions of parents and community leaders to allow girls the opportunity to determine their own futures.
Members of the group come together for their monthly meeting.
"What boys can do we also can do."
Challenging deeply-rooted societal norms, girls like Arti are learning about the importance of gender equality.
"Parents generally think that only boys can help but we too can assist them. We also have the ability to earn a living and take care of our parents, run the house well, we just need an opportunity. There is a lot of societal pressure, parents succumb to this pressure. Society needs to change the way they think.”
Kiran, president of the Mehak girls group.
15-year-old Kiran, president of the Mehak girls group, wants to see everyone reach their full potential, "earlier we lived in fear. We are not afraid anymore to raise our voices against injustice and share our opinions. After joining with World Vision we have got the boldness to face the world. It gives us assurance knowing that someone supports us."
World Vision is committed to supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #5, to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, in all the communities we partner with.
"Despite these girls facing similar struggles, they did not have a platform where they could come together and share each other's experiences, thus the formation of groups like Mehak is important," says Vandana, a community member and World Vision Volunteer.
Suman counselling 12-year-old Chanda on solutions to problems faced in their community.
“We have learnt that there is more to a girl’s life than to just sit at home aimlessly. Being part of this group has given us the courage to follow our dreams. It has also given us a platform to share our problems with one another so that we can find solutions for them. I would like to empower other girls so that they have the strength to press on and move forward, never lose hope” says 17-year-old Suman.
Just like Suman, Arti and Kiran, Poonam is excited about her future, “to change the mindset of society the first step will be to empower through education so that people can understand what we are saying and the emotions behind it. Girls, like me just need opportunities. Before joining the group, my life was studying and then sitting at home. But now, after participating in the group, my way of thinking has changed. There is a desire to go ahead. I can dream big. My parents also encourage me. I feel excited."
About World Vision's work in India
World Vision works with entire communities to create lasting change. Our Human Rights, Education and Life Skills programmes empowers youth through creating child protection systems, training and advocacy.
In India, we work in three communities to create lasting change with a focus on Health and Nutrition Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and Economic Development through Child Sponsorship. We continue to work in these communities to ensure that when it is time to leave, they are ready and able to manage their future.